Orchids, cacti and student garden spaces
The greenhouse is used as teaching and research facility for the Connecticut College botany and ecology classes. It is staffed by arboretum personnel. Built in 1935 under a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to Dr. George Avery, professor of botany and the arboretum’s first director, the greenhouse was designed by Lord and Burnham to replace an existing lean-to greenhouse.
In its early years, the greenhouse was a state-of-the-art growth chamber with temperature, light and humidity-controlled spaces for research on plant hormones and growth. The planting room to the greenhouse, called the Anthony Francis Nelson ’78 Botany Laboratory, was dedicated in November of 1977. An extensive renovation of the greenhouse in 2012 transformed the space into a state-of-the-art science facility. The foundation and frame are all original, but the greenhouse now features new safety glass, electrical service and modern climate control systems. The facility is heated and cooled by a geothermal system attached to a series of 40 wells under Tempel Green.
Today, the 3,000-square-foot greenhouse includes a tropical house with plantings in the ground, an area for botany and cell biology experiments and several collections. These include a cactus collection, an orchid collection and an economic botany/ethnobotany collection. The greenhouse collection is comprised of approximately 433 individual plants, representing 328 unique taxa, 83 families and over 70 countries. Each year, introductory botany students plant and tend a small garden plot of their own design within the greenhouse.